Robert Goodwin's story

Robert 'Bob' Molesworth Goodwin OAM was an insurance clerk in Brisbane before he enlisted in July 1940 with the Australian Imperial Force (AIF).

After training in Brisbane, he served as survey officer of the 2/10th Field Regiment in Malaya and Singapore.

In the days before the fall of Singapore in early 1942, the 2/10th Field Regiment was engaged in the north-west of Singapore, supporting the 22nd Brigade. By 10 February 1942, the regiment had withdrawn to Singapore Harbour. As the Japanese closed in on the city, the 2/10th remained in action, firing some 2100 rounds on Buket Timah village, then moving to Tanglin golf course where it encountered enemy artillery fire and air strikes. The regiment ceased firing on 14 February.

Bob was taken prisoner by the Japanese when the garrison surrendered on 15 February 1942. He was held at Changi, Buket Timah and River Valley Road, then transferred to Thailand in May 1943. Bob was forced to work on the Burma-Thailand railway, including at Hellfire Pass.

Sent back to Singapore in December 1943 when work on the railway finished, Bob spent the rest of the war at Changi. He was liberated in September 1945 and discharged from the AIF in December 1945.

Of his time on the railway, Bob remembered working on the 'bloody cutting', which he noted was not called 'Hellfire Pass' at the time. He recalled lying on bamboo alongside 12 to 14 men to keep off the wet ground, and the deep blackness of the night as all forms of lighting had been confiscated by the Japanese guards. The only light was a faint glow from the cook's fire some 50 yards (45m) away.

After the war, Bob qualified in medicine and worked as a general practitioner (GP) for 15 years. He later specialised as a cardiologist and became a leader in this field of medicine, working for 25 years as officer in charge of the Heart Foundation.

In 1993, in recognition of this service, Bob was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia. In 2009, the Heart Foundation also recognised Bob's service and awarded him the Heart Foundation award for 'Keeping Australian Hearts Beating for Fifty Years'.

Last updated: 8 October 2021

Cite this page

DVA (Department of Veterans' Affairs) (2021), Robert Goodwin's story, DVA Anzac Portal, accessed 24 January 2022,
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